After graduating from Dartmouth College in May 1942, Bob Gale applied to become a Navy cryptographer. He failed the physical because of his glasses and a shoulder injury. He volunteered for the Army Air Corps and eventually was assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). He served as an agent in civilian clothes in the US, and then in 1943 he shipped to England where he roomed in a boarding house owned by a disagreeable woman who often protested that Bob should be off fighting the war, like the other boys.
The landlady did not know that Bob’s job was to look for instances of spying, sabotage, and disloyalty among Allied forces and to investigate all prospective marriages between GIs and British women. He also interviewed wounded soldiers returned from the Normandy invasion. After serving in southern France, he married Maureen Dowd, a British citizen, and returned to the US after the German surrender.
On October 20, 2012, Bob Gale joined us in the magnificent Gettysburg Room at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. His was our last interview of the month. It was one of those dark Fall days that tip the balance of the season–cold, windy, wet. Spooky weather. It was how we imagined Mr. Gale’s stay in Scotland and Ireland as a young counter intelligence officer during WW II. A shadowy affair.
Despite his concern about not getting his facts straight, Mr. Gale’s spoke concisely about his war time service. In fact, we were astounded by his amazing ability to recall specific names of people and places, obscure dates and events. “I want to tell you the correct story,” he often repeated, thumbing the lapel of his dark green Dartmouth alumnus jacket–Class of 1942. So we obliged, and for the rest of the afternoon young Lt. Gale’s once-classified story slowly unfolded before us.